Even if hard water is not harmful and does not affect health matter, it causes many problems such as dries skin and hair, complicate soap, staining and clogging home appliances. Hard water creates stains, clogs and scales build up in home appliances there reducing the efficiency. Therefore, it is important to treat hard water by installing a water softener so as to reduce the negative impact it causes on our home appliances. In this article, we will provide Buyer’s guide on how to choose the best water softeners for your home.
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Water softeners are systems or gadgets that are used in our home to remove impurities such as calcium and magnesium that make water hard. If your area has hard water, the only solution is to install water softeners.
What is hard water?
Hard water is raw water which contains minerals like calcium, magnesium, and ions which makes water hard. The minerals can be picked from the soil or ground rocks. Hard water is not harmful to human being and does not affect health matter, but it causes many problems in our lives.
Effects of hard water
- Hard water makes your skin become dry and cause irritation. It also causes hair loss after bathing with it.
- It causes spots on the glassware and other utensils
- If hard water runs through the pipe for a very long time lime scale and matters build up in the pipe eventually causing the pipe to block and slow water flow.
- Home appliances such as dishwashers, water heater, washing machines, and kettles are affected by hard water. When lime scale and matters build up in the appliances makes it fail to operate, it reduces lifespan and becomes expensive to repair.
- If clothes are washed using hard water, they become hard and scratchy and eventually looks old and feeling crispy
- Hard water affects sinks. The reaction between soap and hard water form scum stain on the sink and shower
All those effects of hard water make a good reason why we need water softeners in our house.
How do you know that your water is hard and need a water softener?
There is a straightforward test you can do at home although they are not accurate they will give you an idea whether your water is hard or soft.
Tests to do at home:
When bathing, your water should form a good foam, or you find milk curd on your surface that signs the water is salty.
Fill the bottle halfway with water
Add few drops of liquid soap
Shake for a few seconds
If your water didn’t form the foam that indicates is hard water.
The accurate test is to use a water hardness kit.
How does a water softener work?
A water softener has two tanks. One tank which has polystyrene beads/ zeolite or resin beads and the other tanks hold salt or sodium and liquid brine/ salt water. Polystyrene beads are negatively charged beads.
Hard water that is positively charged passes through the tank containing polystyrene beads. The positively charged molecules are attracted to beads which are negatively charged and stick firmly to the beads providing soft water safe for drinking.
The liquid brine is passed through polystyrene beads to remove hard water minerals that have stick firmly. The process of when polystyrene beads need to be rinsed the minerals they have picked from hard water is called Regeneration
Water softeners replace the presence of the minerals in hard water with sodium using a process called ion exchange.
What to consider before buying water softeners
- The hardness of your water
The hardness is measured in grains per gallons. If you check and find your waters has:
3 grains –slightly hard
3-7 grains- moderately hard
7-10 grains- hard
10-15 grains- very hard
Above 15 – extremely hard
- Average household water consumption
The average amount of water a person consumes per day is between 70 and 110. If you have five people in your house per day, you consume 80X5=400 gallon per day, and after a week you drink 400X7=2800 gallons per week
Like any other device water softeners require regular maintenance. A salt-based water softener needs a regular addition of salt and power needed for regeneration. So they will be electricity bill to be paid in salt-based water softeners.
A free salt water softener has a filter which requires being replaced on a regular basis.
- The capacity of a water softener
The capacity of water depends on with the amount of water you consume. If you consume a large amount of water, you need a softener that has a big size. Most water softeners have a size range from 15,000 to 100,000 GPG.
If you consume a lot of water, you need a water softener that has a large capacity to reduce the cost of regeneration.
Types of water softeners
They are two types of water softener Salt-based water softeners and soft free water softeners.
Salt-based water softeners
This kind of water softeners is meant to be used in extremely or very hard water. The water softeners replace hard water ions with soft water ions. Soft water ions used is sodium (salt) ions. You need a saltwater tank or brine solution tank which needs to be added more often for the process to work. The brine solution is required to remove hard minerals that are stuck in the polystyrene beads.
A salt-based water softener is not recommended due to some health issues; there are traces of salt that are left in the softened water. So they can cause a health risk to people who are having a problem with kidney or heart-related diseases.
However, you can still use the system by using soft ions such as potassium which is not harmful to our bodies, and it is nutrients required to keep our body health. During regeneration, you can use hydrogen or hydrochloric acid which is not- toxic cleaning agent if used the right amount. Both hydrogen and potassium are eco- friendly.
You can also decide to leave individual taps with hard water for cooking and drinking.
A salt-based water softener requires regeneration regularly, so you are required to add softening materials which are expensive.
The process of water softening does not include removing hard water minerals. No salt is used if you want to remove hard water minerals you can incorporate other methods recommended by the proprietor.
Salt-free water softeners remove scales and matter build up in the pipe. When hard water passes through a pipe scales and matters build up they can cause the pipe to clog or blockage. The softeners are not meant to remove hard water minerals but to remove scales and matter created by the hardness of water.
This type of water softeners is useful if your water has a hardness of over 8GPG.
Salt-free devices that are used to remove scales and matter are:
Magnetic– The magnet is placed around water pipes which alter water structure. The process does not offer a permanent solution to your water hardness. The Hardness in water is paralyzed for about 48 hours, and after that, it returns to its hardness form.
Electronic– Electronic pulses are sent to disrupt any suspended hard water mineral and change the chemical which causes scaling and building up of matter.
Chelation– It uses citrus based agents. Their molecules will combine with hard water minerals and prevent scales and matter form in your pipe and showers.
Commonly asked questions
Water softeners cost
The cost of water softeners depends on size and functionality. Before purchasing you should consider average water consumption in your home. For instance, if you buy a small water softener than the required size you will be doing regeneration more often than usual, and you will pay more for electricity consumed during regeneration.
Consider buying a bigger size or the required size even though the purchase price will be high, but you will save more money.
Terms used in water softener process
Regeneration– During the process of water softening there are softener resin beads which attract hard water minerals or hard water ions they stick to the beads. The resin bead needs to be flushed or cleaned. The process of cleaning or flushing out hard water ions or minerals from the resin beads is called Regeneration.
There are three types of regeneration
Meter regeneration- the water softener will regenerate based on water usage and is most commonly used.
Scale- When hard water passes through a pipe more often, the hard water minerals built up or gather particular place in the pipe. That is what called scale.
Portable vs. standard
There are water softeners that are portable, and the other is standard. Portable water softeners are best suited for outdoors, camping or traveling. Standard water softeners are installed in the house in your existing water system
Portable water softeners are used to soften less amount of water per day.
If you live in areas with hard water the best way is to treat your water is installing a water softener. Make sure when buying you consider the tip we have outlined in this article and I am sure you will find the best water softener you need to soften your water. We hope that our Top 10 Best Water softeners 2018 review was very helpful and we have provided you with the right information to guide when purchasing Water softeners brand.
Which water softeners are you using in your house? Please share with us in the comment section and the best brand that you would recommend.
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